WHILE the drought continues unabated in New South Wales and Queensland, Wimmera crop farmers are now looking for rain within the next couple of weeks to make the difference between failed crops to a reasonable harvest.
Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group Wimmera representative Marshall Rodda said everyone was looking skyward.
He said if it rained within the next couple of weeks it could see harvests from five to 10 bags, but if it didn’t rain and also got hot, producers would maybe get two bags per hectare.
“They’re on knife edge. It’s too early to make a prediction on how much we’re going to take off,” he said.
Mr Rodda said, while producers had rain for sowing, they now needed rain to get more height in the crops.
“Harvesting will be hard because the crops are short and it’s hard to get the header that low,” he said.
Last week Mr Rodda made the decision to cut canola crops and make hay instead of taking the risk of maybe getting rain that would see a good seed crop. He has windrowed and plans on baling within a couple of days.
Even after 50 years on the farm, decisions such as making hay from a potential canola harvest were hard.
He said if dry conditions continued, then making the hay was the right decision because at least he had got something off the paddock.
But if it rained, then it would have been better to leave the canola to ripen.
He said the decisions made this year would impact the next. For example, he had sown barley into areas this year where there had been canola the year before and in other areas where it had been fallow.
Because there hadn’t been enough follow-up rain, the barley where the canola was struggled due to not enough moisture being replenished in the soil after the canola.
“You get a sour taste in your mouth looking at some of the decisions you have to make,” he said.
Four weeks ago the crops had been looking good but now you could see them drying from the fences in. At the moment the middle parts were still okay and could have some yield if it at least stayed cool.
“The cool weather at the moment is a blessing, it’s paramount,” he said.
If it didn’t rain and then got hot, that would impact a lot of the crops.
Mr Rodda said he didn’t want to focus on the negative because agriculture was unpredictable and you had to make decisions with the information you had at the time.
He had some self-sown barley that came up in 300 acres of vetch that hadn’t done well so he was going to bale that and hopefully at least get 150 bales off it that would help feed his sheep.